EXCERPT: Sex and civic education in schools in Europe is an "attack" on religious freedom, Pope Benedict XVI said on Monday, following a Vatican row with Spain over a new course promoting liberal values.

"I cannot remain silent about another attack on the religious freedom of families in certain European countries which mandate obligatory participation in courses of sexual or civic education," the pope said.

In his traditional New Year's address to ambassadors to the Vatican, the pope said such courses "convey a neutral concept of the person and of life, yet in fact reflect an anthropology opposed to faith and to right reason".

Benedict said this was an example of the "threats" against "the cultural roots which nourish the profound identity and social cohesion of many nations".

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